Exploring the Kootenays: The Arts and Culture Route

Wander through artisan studios and discover the incredible talent on offer in the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region.

If you’re an art lover — and frankly even if you’re not — you’ll be impressed by the quality and variety of talented artists, local markets and cultural sites among the communities of the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region. Discover the hidden gems and local artistry of the area by taking a road trip and touring the area. 

Here’s an itinerary for how to make the most of the arts and culture scene on a three-day road trip in the Kootenays, starting from Calgary.

Day one

Hit the road and enjoy a scenic seven-hour drive through Alberta and BC, boasting majestic mountain views, roadside lakes and forestlands. Make sure to download the Kootenay Lake Road Trip App before you head out to enjoy the app’s driving tour and to ensure you don’t miss out on any unique points of interest. The driving tour begins in Wynndel, don’t forget to turn your speaker up. Keep an eye out for blue highway markers with the letter “A.” They’ll guide you right to local artisan studios and shops.

What to do: As you head toward Crawford Bay, make a pit stop at The Glass House in Sanca. This quirky castle was built in 1952 using 500,000 empty embalming fluid bottles. After retiring from the funeral business, the late David Brown wanted to create something practical with his large collection of embalming bottles. In the summer, you can even enjoy a guided tour of this one-of-a-kind house. 

Dinner: While you’re in Crawford Bay, stop by the Black Salt Cafe and enjoy organic, locally sourced food and artisanal dining in their colourful gallery space or spacious garden patio.

Where to stay: After a day of driving, get a well-deserved good night’s rest at Kokanee Chalets in Crawford Bay. Guests can choose from a three-bedroom rustic chalet, private guest rooms or the RV park, all located a 10-minute walk away from the beach.

Photo credits: Cierra and Mike Dowie – Kokanee Chalet

Day two

Breakfast: Start your day off right with fresh baked goods like scones or croissants at Red’s Bread and Bakery, conveniently located next to Kokanee Chalets. For those looking for a heartier breakfast, go for a made-to-order breakfast sandwich. 

What to do: The Crawford Bay Artisan Tour is the best way to explore the many talented local artisans. With the self-guided walking tour, you’ll discover handmade ceramics and metalworks as well as artists such as North Woven Broom Co., a shop that handcrafts brooms using antique equipment and age-old techniques. “There’s this sort of creative energy here. I don’t know if it comes from the landscape but there are a lot of creative people doing beautiful work and we support each other,” says Luke Lewis, owner of North Woven Broom.

Lunch: Head over to Kootenay Bay for lunch at the Ladybug Cafe. Choose from their daily lunch and homemade soup specials or indulge in a second breakfast with their world-famous breakfast sandwich for only $7.

What to do: Hop aboard the world’s longest free scenic ferry, the Kootenay Lake Ferry. From Kootenay Bay, it brings you to Balfour in about 35 minutes and covers eight kilometres of distance.

Dinner: Whether you’re a seafood or burger lover, you’ll find something to love at the Dock ‘n’ Duck. Choose from the likes of seafood pasta, fish and chips or a juicy BBQ burger. 

Where to stay: Spend a peaceful night at a tucked-away retreat, where you can enjoy the secluded shores of Queen’s Bay at Queen’s Bay Hideaway Waterfront Cottage.

Photo credits: Tamarack Media – North Woven Broom Co

Day three

Breakfast: For a good ol’ caffeine fix, make your way to Kaslo, and visit the Bluebelle Bistro. If you’re feeling peckish, pair your coffee with one of their freshly made baked goods.

What to do: While you’re in Kaslo, discover some of the region’s history with a tour of the S.S. Moyie, the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler and a National Historic Site.

Lunch: Enjoy a slice of the Kaslo Special — a pizza topped with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh basil — at Buddy’s Front Street Pizzeria. For something sweet to finish off lunch, swing by Teresa’s for a piece of her famous pie.

What to do: Wander through the Japanese-Canadian museum at The Langham Cultural Centre and learn about Kaslo’s history. The centre also features a small theatre, three art galleries and 13 studio spaces. Or, if it’s a sunny day, visit the lively Kaslo River with its mossy banks, bright bridges and hidden sculptures, all unveiled to capture your curiosity. Make the most of this experience by downloading the Kaslo River Trail Tour on the Kootenay Lake Road Trip App. 

Dinner: At the Angry Hen, you’ll find a selection of refreshing locally brewed craft beers along with several appetizers, burgers and salads to fill your belly. Plus, the patio offers an incredible view overlooking Kootenay Lake to enjoy your meal — the perfect way to wrap up your getaway.

Mitch Winton – Kaslo Village

Three Can’t-Miss Mainstreets

Highway 3A in Crawford Bay: Discover the works of local jewellers, woodcarvers, clay artists, glass painters and more at Artisans of Crawford Bay, a string of unique studios all within walking distance from one another.

Front St. in Kaslo: Check out Kaslo Front Street Market for fresh produce and Front Street Antiques for one-of-a-kind shopping on the shores of Kootenay Lake.

Baker St. in Nelson: Browse through a variety of galleries, local shops, and food and drink options like Backroads Brewing Company

For more cultural inspiration and to plan your route through the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region, visit nelsonkootenaylake.com.

This content was produced for the advertiser by RedPoint Media for commercial purposes. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Avenue staff.

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